Hermione Jean’s story began just like everyone else’s–a pregnancy test marked with two lines. I liked calling it the magic stick, as I am amazed at how quickly it could give couples news of either great joy or great sorrow; sometimes terror even. To us, it came with a little bit of a shock. We weren’t really serious in trying to get pregnant at that time, and other things just seemed more important, but Omer was four and we felt like we were being more pressured in the family than anyone else. I hadn’t been very careful with my physical activities the past weeks and that only showed how lenient we were with our expectations. But we tested positive anyway and our hearts were filled with gratitude and joy. I knew that a major shift of priorities was underway.
I began to get excited about the thought of me carrying a human being with a body and soul–one that we would love forever and become our princess. I was already thinking about cuddling her in my arms, touching her little fingers, and just staring at her for hours. To me she already had a gender (a face even!). I could see Omer getting stoked learning that he is going to be a kuya (big brother) to his new bunso (youngest sibling).
We went to see my doctor a few days later to make sure that everything was going well. The results of my ultrasound confirmed what the magic stick told us, and we were happier than ever.
A happy and healthy-looking baby! What news could be better? I was a little shocked though to know that she was already 7 weeks old, which meant that she went with us on our roadtrip to Pangasinan and Lucena provinces the previous month and our trek to Mount Pico de Loro just the previous week! It felt awesome but scary because anything could have had happened between those physically strenuous activities without me even knowing that I was pregnant. Thankfully, the test showed that she was healthy and ok. I had the feeling that she was going to be a strong one.
I downloaded an Android app that lets you track the progress of your baby on a day to day basis, and by this day, Hermione Jean was exactly 8 weeks old. According to the app, webbed fingers and toes were poking out from her hands and feet. Just the thought of it made me cry. 224 days looked like an eternity to go. I just couldn’t wait to make fun memories with her.
I also learned from the app that she was about this size. Oh how life could be so tiny and great at the same time!
Until a few days later, I felt something was off. We went to see my doctor who checked her vitals. She pressed the little machine onto my tummy to check the baby’s heartbeat but suddenly couldn’t find it. She told us that the baby may just be leaning towards the other side, but instructed me to have another ultrasound to double check.
Yuli had to go to work the following day, so I went with Omer instead. We waited for so long that by the time it was my turn, Omer was already having his four-year-old tantrums. Lucky there was a TV in the waiting area and he was entertained for a bit.
When I got in, the attending physician confirmed not finding the heartbeat, and the next things that happened were just a blur.
I remember holding Omer by the hand but barely feeling it. I remember feeling numb all over and weak to the knees that I nearly collapsed to the couch near the exit. With Omer looking as puzzled as I was, I dialed Yuli’s number and broke him the news. I didn’t want to cry in front of all those people, but could not help it. I cried as quickly and silently as I could. Omer was looking worried now and asked me what was wrong. I didn’t know whether I could tell him what was happening yet, so I just hugged him and stayed silent. We walked out of the clinic pushing myself to be at least strong enough to get me and Omer home.
She was still inside me but without life and soul. I kept on touching and feeling her from the outside, hoping that my touch could wake her up. Maybe she was still breathing but only demurely, just like a princess would. Or maybe if I laid down the whole night, she’d have some rest and be healthy again the next day. Or maybe the tests were just wrong. Those maybes kept my hopes only but an inch, because I also knew the fact that I had already taken two tests to know if she was okay, and both had failed.
This photo was taken during the night we learned about the sad news. I still managed to give a smile however broken I was inside. The hope behind the smile was to remember and celebrate the good things and people that we have in our lives, starting with the five at our back.
I was trying my best to steer away from the thought of what we lost but instead remember the many other things we have been given, and at that night they were successful in helping me achieve that.
The day following that sweet night came my toughest and most painful day in my 24 years of existence. It was right after she passed by me that it all sunk and hit me straight to the heart. The thoughts that I had only imagined for the past 2 weeks came crashing down the bathroom floor, and it was a sight I’d never thought I could ever bear seeing. After that short, painful moment, it was as if my own life was taken away from me, and I had absolutely no idea how to move forward from that. I didn’t even know if I ever wanted to move forward.
I went back to see my doctor the next day and had another ultrasound to check the status of my uterus. My doctor gave me her sympathies and assured me that there was nothing that I did wrong, and that I should never blame myself for what happened. She knew that I did my best to keep the baby healthy, but that these incidents could really happen especially during the first trimester. I knew that I did my best to keep the baby healthy as soon as we found out, but I could not stop blaming myself for what happened.
My tender mercy number 2 came just in time when I was about to lose it, a few weeks later when, in the middle of my usual I’m-alive-but-barely-living routine, I thought again of my Hermione Jean, and began to ask myself the role that she played in all of this. I tried to look at the bigger picture to understand her purpose in the hopes that I would also understand and maybe rediscover mine. I didn’t want to think that she died in vain and that I should just keep on going with life.
The week after I lost her, I had undergone a cystectomy procedure to take out a couple of ovarian cysts that as per my doctor could all have been cancerous. Without her, I wouldn’t have gone to the clinic to have an ultrasound and found out that I have those cysts. Without her, I wouldn’t have known. From being our princess, she became my angel. Understanding that purpose gathered my courage to start moving again, and do so with the thought that I have been lifted up, so I shouldn’t put everything to waste.
Having a knowledge of that truth gives me the everyday strength to push forward, believing that someday, I will see our Hermione Jean again, together with our family at last. The mortal separation became just a dot in the timeline compared to the eternity that awaits us.
I am not a strong woman. I easily get discouraged by frustrating things and challenges. But these three tender mercies I have received from my Heavenly Father have greatly helped me recover from something I never would have thought ever recovering from. I may just be one of the million moms who have faced or are facing the same trial, but I wanted to say that you could never go wrong believing that
there are people who love you, understanding that you have a purpose, and hoping that what you lost will someday be returned to you, will hopefully lift you up to move again, just as it helped me.
As my favorite Jeffrey R. Holland said:
Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.
Surely, tomorrow, the Lord will do wonders to those who have kept the faith.